The contract, to be valid must contain some ingredients. One of the most important element is the free consent of parties. The contract is the agreement between two or more persons. So there must be meeting of minds in similar manner. So the meeting must be voluntary. It must be free from any compulsion or pressure. A contract without free consent is not proper.
Section 13 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 says that when two or more persons agree upon the same thing in the same sense, there is consent. Consent can be express and implied. Section 14 of the Act goes on saying what is free consent. There are different elements the presence of which will compel someone to enter into a contract. So if those elements are present the contract is not formed by free consent. Those elements are as follows:
Coercion(Section 15)-In order to cause any person to enter into any contract, one person commits or threatens to commit an illegal act as defined in Indian Penal Code or unlawfully detains any property connected with the other person or threatens to do so.
Undue Influence(Section 16)-When a person in a position to dominate the will of other uses this position to obtain an unfair advantage over another in a contract.
Fraud(Section 17)- Every act, promise, omission intended to deceive forms fraud.
Misrepresentation(Section 18)- Misleading another in a contract comes under misrepresentation.
Mistake(Sections 20-22)- Mistake is the erroneous belief either of law or fact by one or other parties or both.
If one or all of the above elements are present in forming a contract, it is voidable. Section 19 of Indian Contract Act specifically says that when the consent to an agreement is caused by coercion, fraud or misrepresentation, the agreement is a contract voidable at the option of the part whose consent was so caused. Section 20 says that when both parties are under a mistake as to a matter of fact essential to the agreement, the agreement is void. Section 19A says that a contract in which the agreement is caused by undue influence, it is voidable.
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